Hydrotherapy for Hip Dysplasia

Hydrotherapy in an underwater treadmill aids in hip dysplasia management, focusing on muscle strengthening and increased hip range of motion for dogs, whether young or old.

Research Authors

Summary

Hydrotherapy in an underwater treadmill aids in hip dysplasia management, focusing on muscle strengthening and increased hip range of motion for dogs, whether young or old. This therapy uses the properties of water, such as buoyancy for reduced weight-bearing, resistance for muscle building, heat therapy for circulation, and targeted exercises to enhance specific muscle groups. By utilising dynamic exercises, soft tissue massage, and adjustable inclines, the treatment aims to improve muscle support for the hips, posture, and functional activity.

Background

Hydrotherapy in the underwater treadmill (UWT) allows us to provide controlled, muscle targeted strengthening exercise for your hip dysplasia dog, young or old.  The underwater treadmill works like a land based treadmill, with the added benefits of water to provide:

  • Buoyancy to reduce weight-bearing, alleviating pressure to the joints and allow your dog to move more freely than they may be able to on land
  • Resistance to help build muscle and strength
  • Therapeutic heat to increase blood flow and relax muscle tension
  • Adjustable and specific activation of specific muscle groups
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Within the underwater treadmill we can:

  • Use dynamic and static exercises to improve strength of the gluteal and hindlimb muscles to support the hips, and strengthening the core for strong posture
  • Encourage greater hip extension, increasing hind limb range of motion
  • Encourage postural balance and reduce compensatory patterns
  • Use soft tissue massage to reduce muscle tension
  • Provide passive stretching that may be hard to achieve on land
  • Add incline and decline for a more rigorous workout
  • Provide progressive adjustments throughout treatment to help restore your dog to functional activity
  • Provide mental and physical stimulation if they are on exercise restrictions

When can my dog start hydrotherapy?

For conservative management of hip dysplasia your dog may be able to start straight away.  If your dog has had hip surgery your specialist will advise when they can commence rehabilitation.

What if my dog doesn't like the water?

During the first session we will discuss your dog’s history and goals of treatment while they relax and get to know us, followed by a physical, postural and gait assessment, before introducing them to the underwater treadmill.

Underwater treadmill therapy is walking in water, not swimming.  We take things nice and slow with positive introductions to ease them into their initial session, plus we have tasty treats on hand as needed.  With proper introductions we find even those that are water shy usually enjoy and relax into their therapy.  Our hydrotherapist will always be hands-on in the underwater treadmill with your dog.

How often will my dog have hydrotherapy?

Your dog’s hydrotherapy is customised specifically for them.  Recommended frequency will depend on the presenting condition and be discussed at your first appointment.